Tue Sep 12 2017
Miriam, 16, recently moved back to Austria after an exchange semester in the USA. She told us about the American high school spirit, how she met her best friends and about the epic Coast to Coast trip that she ended her semester in the USA with.
Name: Miriam Kapfinger
Age: 16 years
Hometown: Stripfing, Austria
On exchange in: Indiana, USA, for one semester
I always loved travelling, seeing different parts of the world and cultures. Staying in the same place, at the same school for my whole school career seemed boring to me – I wanted to experience a completely different high school life and way of living in general. I knew I was going to come back with so much new knowledge, so many memories, friendships with people from a different country and much more.
It's hard to pick one best part, because there are so many amazing things I can think of. One of the best parts was definitely the high school life. What just looks like a different school system, a different building and people at first, turns out to be way more than that. The spirit, the enthusiasm of the students, the awesome feeling and the fun of being on a sports team and making friends for life there – all of that makes school life so amazing. Every school day was a new adventure and fully experiencing it the American way was awesome.
I got along super well with my host family. From day one, I felt like a part of their family. They were very welcoming and made sure I was adjusting well and soon we had already made some great memories. We always had a lot of fun and they took me to some great places. Of course, we also had some disagreements and issues came up from time to time, but that’s what happens in a family and it always could be solved.
I really liked the city I lived in. Martinsville, Indiana, is a bigger town very close to the capital, Indianapolis. At least for me it was a big town, since I come from a very small one, so it was great to see something different and to have everything you need "around the corner". Plus, it is close to a lot of other towns where they also have malls and other great restaurants. I always found something to do there and I liked that it offered a little of both, city and countryside.
Yes, making friends didn't take very long. Already on my first days of school, people came up to me and offered help, and a girl in my French class asked me to sit at a lunch table with her and her friends. I made more friends in my classes, and the met people in my track team. Practice was always so much fun and I grew really close to the girls. I'll probably always stay in contact with my best friends there.
The road trip was amazing indeed! Saying that I got so many new impressions that I still need to process them is no exaggeration. Of course, it got really exhausting to be on the road every day and visit a different place every day, but having seen 15 different states after three weeks, where I saw so many different cultures made it totally worth it. From the sea and beaches, over the desert and beautiful countryside, to Americas biggest metropolises – we saw so much! Not only that, I became family with the other 12 exchange students from all over the world. Sharing our cultures, working and living together and making memories really made us become a family. It was the best trip I've ever been on.
I would totally recommend becoming an exchange student in the USA to any other teenager! It was the most amazing experience of my life so far and nobody can ever take those memories away from me. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you can only do at this age and it opens your mind so much. I got to really see the American way of life and I fell in love with the people and the places. When I first got there I was pretty overwhelmed, but at the end of my school year I didn't want to leave. I'd do it again without a doubt!